By: Nikko Weathers
With the knee injury to Ben Simmons, Brett Brown is forced to be without his all star forward for the foreseeable future. With the absence of Simmons, all of the pressure is left to the 76ers superstar Joel Embid who is struggling to find a win against the young Boston Celtics.
Boston’s Jayson Tatum has been firing on all cylinders leading the Celtics in scoring while taking a 2-0 series lead against the injury riddled Sixers. From those two games it is obvious that the Sixers miss Simmons, without him there is absolutely no identity on the offensive end and no leader on the floor. It is no question that Embid is their best player on the floor however there are many questions that arise when he and Simmons are both on the floor, or Simmons is absent. Embid seems to lack leadership qualities, and toughness while also looking out of shape due to the 4 month hiatus.
It has never been more clear how valuable Simmons is to the team, but when he is on the floor with Embid they still can’t seem to get it done and make it out of the East. Critics knock Simmons’ inability to shoot a jumper from the perimeter, his turnovers, and his lack of offensive repertoire. What many should focus on besides his weaknesses should be what he is good at which is pushing the offense in transition, his defensive skills, and his vision on the floor.
During the offseason the 76ers gave forward Tobias Harris a max $180 million, $97 million for Al Horford, and acquired Josh Richardson via a trade with MIami for Jimmy Butler. The 76ers valued size this offseason but didn’t focus on adding depth to compliment the main pieces on the team which are their two all stars, Simmons and Embid. Their lack of perimeter shooting, bench depth, and offensive miscues will have them plagued against the other top teams in the East.
Yes, if Ben Simmons were healthy in this series against the Celtics it would have been a far better matchup, he led the league in steals at 2.1 steals, he held Jayson Tatum to 31.3 percent shooting while he guarded him, and averaged 8.0 assists which ranked sixth in the NBA.
If the 76ers refocused their offseason on adding pieces to compliment their two stars we could see a different year for them however, that is not the case. They overpaid for a non all star forward in Tobias Harris, they added a regressing big in Al Horford, and downgraded by trading for Josh Richardson while shipping out Jimmy Butler. They also lost their knock down perimeter shooter in JJ Reddick. If they didn’t give away Reddick, didn’t overpay for an average forward, didn’t sign a regressing big, and kept all star Jimmy Butler happy this would have been a far more successful year.